Do as I say: Fast Track Your Double Under Progress
Written by: DCCF-er, EA Duncan
In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that I am not good at Double Unders. My longest string currently sits at 12 and the maximum cumulative amount I’ve been able to commit to doing in one sitting before hitting myself in the face with a rope too many times is 75. So why am I writing to you? Because I want to save you from my mistakes and fast track your progress. I imagine with proper prioritizing I could have had all of the following breakthroughs in one week, at least six months ago. And honestly, I think someone who never struggled at DUs has no place giving advice about them.
1. Stop doing singles. One of my main sources of frustration with DUs is that I consider myself a damn good jump roper. I was a legitimate contender at Jump Rope For Heart as a kid (Did anyone else do this in elementary school?!) and I can keep steady singles for a long time without getting caught up. Sadly, if the goal is DUs singles will NEVER get you there.
2. Stop looking for the silver bullet rope. Everyone wants to give you advice about ropes but the bottom line is half the world says shorter/light, half the world says longer/heavier and people who are good at DUs could probably do them with an actual piece of rope if they needed to do so. Try a bunch of ropes if you can. Find what works for you. (If you’re dying for my personal opinion I vote shorter and I use a Buddy Lee rope for most practice because it hurts less when it hits me. I hope to graduate to my Rogue rope for good someday, but for now it’s for small numbers only.)
3. Figure out if you’re not turning the rope fast enough. I didn’t have this break through until I used speed training balls. They’re essentially jump rope handles with wiffle balls attached to the end that will force your wrists to turn like they should for DUs. Thirty seconds with these and LIGHTBULB OH THAT’S WHAT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE, THAT’S NOTHING LIKE WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING moment complete. If you go to DCCF, I will leave them in the office for you. Otherwise, order some from Amazon.
4. Watch this video:
There are millions of DU videos out there but I found most of them laughably say “Get one, then work on stringing them together!” THANKS FOR NOTHING, INTERNET. The Again Faster video has an interesting approach to getting the rhythm: letting the rope turn and smack the ground without jumping. I’m not sure why it works, but the day I watched this, I finally got one.
5. Video tape your attempts. I get why CrossFit is all anti-mirrors-let-coaches-tell-you-what-to-correct-don’t-try-to-watch-yourself… but this does not apply to DUs. Verbal coaching cues about keeping my elbows or turning my wrists faster in never worked for me. After seeing myself on video once, I got what they were saying. I also noticed many other flaws. Put your iPhone to use.
6. Tuck jump the hell out of DUs for a while. After hearing the rope hit the ground, I progressed to where I could go “single single TUCK JUMP TO FORCE A DOUBLE” Eventually I progressed to only needing the tuck jump for the very first one of the string. Now I can get it started without the tuck. It’s a drill and it has its place. Anyone who tells you not to do this is an a**hole who never struggled with DUs and they can suck it.
7. Substitute attempts for DUs. Once you have even a singular DU start substituting attempts. If the WOD has 50 DUs, try 25 attempts (maybe even 15). It’s not fun watching everyone glide unbroken while you acquire whip marks, but again: singles will never get you doubles. And conversely, you’ll never get doubles without attempting.
8. Start every day in the gym with 2 minutes max DUs. In theory, this is what I’m doing to watch my progress. If you’re wondering if I actually get to it every day, let me hit you with what my Dad often likes to tell me: Do as I say, not as I do.
After spending 11 months whining that I didn’t have DUs I signed up for a competition that put 2 minutes Max Double Unders as the very first element of the very first WOD. I was stuck. I could either stand there and look like an idiot or I had to figure out how to do some. I went from 0 to 34 in matter of weeks. Sure, 34 is a long way from perfect. But if you do as I say and not as I did, maybe your progress will be more impressive.
Elizabeth Ann Duncan (“E.A.”) is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She can now do DUs in sets of 50 and endoreses the RX ropes because she thinks the heavier handles help her rhythm and loves that the rope isn’t a weapon if/when it hits you. She still thinks if you didn’t struggle w dubs you shouldn’t be giving advice about them.